WASHINGTON, Sept. 29 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Majority Leader Steny Hoyer held a press availability this afternoon in the Capitol following a leadership meeting in the Speaker's office. Below are their remarks:
Speaker Pelosi. Good afternoon. We know you are there. We can see you. Thank you all very much for coming by so we can report to you that our conversations are moving forward, taking us closer to a resolution of some of decisions that we have to make on our health care reform legislation.
As we have said to you before, coming out of the three committees, we are about 85 percent in agreement and now in the 90s in agreement. And again, our goal is to have stability in our health care system, with affordability for the middle class, and security and protection of Medicare for our seniors. I'm very pleased with the participation of the leadership of the committees, of the leadership of the Congress, and on the ongoing meetings that we have all day every day with our members.
Every day, the issue at the top of whatever specific issue we are discussing with seniors, small business, or the impact on women, etc. -- the overarching issue is lowering costs. And we spent another three hours today on that subject. That will be the subject of our Caucus tomorrow -- of our freshman meeting and otherwise. We are carefully monitoring what is happening on the Senate side in that regard. But again, as we lower cost, we must strengthen affordability for the middle class.
Mr. Hoyer? Mr. Leader?
Majority Leader Hoyer. The Speaker has been leading a number of meetings that we have had -- almost daily, so that we can assure that every American, as I said earlier today in my pen and pad, has the access to affordable, quality, health care at a price that the country can afford, a price that they can afford, and that small business and businesses can afford. And assure that we have a healthy nation, a strong nation.
It is hard work, but we are determined to get it done and we believe that we will get it done in the foreseeable future and we will bring a bill to the floor, as I said earlier today, when we are ready.
Q: Inaudible. [About timing.]
Speaker Pelosi. When they're ready.
Q: Inaudible. [Follow up.]
Speaker Pelosi. It will be when they are ready. As we. . .
Majority Leader Hoyer. Did I tell you we were in lock step?
Speaker Pelosi. We don't feel any pressure of time. We, again, have close communication with our colleagues as they come back from their break and from the weekend and the rest to answer any questions that they may have.
So, we're on a timeline that will produce a bill in a timely fashion, but we feel no rush to come to the floor until we are ready and we'll let you know when that is.
Majority Leader Hoyer. This is bill after all -- can I just make a point that I think you all know? This is a bill that is scheduled to be going into effect in 2013. Obviously we need a lot of lead time -- we want to do this right. So as the Speaker said, there is no pressure to do it this week or next week or the following week. We want to do it as expeditiously as possible.
Speaker Pelosi. And may I remind you -- it's historic. And what we are doing is to bring, again, stability to our health care system. Not only about health care, but how we make America healthier. And we want to do that, as the President has put forth, in a way that improves quality, lowers costs, retains choice -- you like what you have you can keep it -- and expands coverage. In order for people to keep what they have though, we have to stop the upward spiral of costs because affordability is key to accessibility and again, having this affordable for the middle class drives all of our decisions.
Q: How can you deal with bridging the gap between Members of your Caucus, such as yourself and Mr. Hoyer, who insist upon a public option, and those Members of the Caucus who don't want it? How do your bridge that divide?
Majority Leader Hoyer. This divide that exists may be with others, but in our Caucus, everybody wants to do health care reform. I've told you that before. On the public option, frankly, I think a very significant majority of Democrats in the House of Representatives are okay with a public option. The issue is how it is configured, and we are in the process of discussing that.
Speaker Pelosi. The Members of our Caucus are concerned about bringing down cost. Again, that is the driving force for how we go forward and how we lower cost to individuals, to businesses, to the economy, to our federal budget. As the President has said: "Health care reform is entitlement reform." So taking down cost is important.
And as you know, a strong public option lowers cost. There are significant negotiated rates through Medicare. A public option lowers costs significantly. So I believe that we will have a public option in our bill as we go forward. The differences are not as great as you may think when you take it down to its different parts, but everybody wants to lower cost and that is a very strong option for a public option in the bill.
Speaker Pelosi. I think Mr. Hoyer just mentioned, we are resolving our differences, how it affects Members' districts, and health care providers in their districts.
Speaker Pelosi. We have -- one of our bills has negotiated rates in it. The Energy and Commerce bill has negotiated rates in it that. The two other bills have Medicare rates. Those chairmen are in communication. And I remind you that the Senate Health bill -- Senator Kennedy's committee, now Senator Harkin's committee -- has negotiated rates for a public option in it in that bill.
So, four of the five committees have a public option. Two of the four committees have negotiated rates. Two have the other way. We are building consensus now, and I am confident that as we go forward in the House we will reach a strong consensus with a bill that lowers cost, improves quality, expands coverage and retains the choice that people value now. You like your doctor and your plan, you can keep it. We just want to make it affordable for you.
Speaker Pelosi. Yes, we do. That is what we spent part of the day doing. Thank you. Thanks again.
SOURCE Office of the Speaker of the House
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